The companies got into trouble after they ran ads for FilmDistrict‘s 2013 thriller Olympus Has Fallen that include the distinctive Emergency Alert System warning sounds, the FCC says today as it proposed what it calls the largest ever penalties for its misuse (watch the ad below). Viacom will be hit hardest with a $1.12M fine for airing the ad 108 times over five days on Spike, VH1, MTV, Comedy Central, MTV2, Centric, and BET. NBCUniversal will have to cough up $530,000 for running the ad 38 times over six days on Syfy, USA, and five regional sports networks. And ESPN follows with $280,000 for running the ad 13 times over four days on ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNEWS. “The FCC has long prohibited the transmission of actual or simulated EAS Attention Signals or tones in circumstances other than a real alert or an authorized test of the EAS system,” the FCC says. The cable companies said that the rules don’t apply to them because they don’t participate in the EAS program, the FCC notice notes.
In this week’s podcast, Deadline’s executive editor David Lieberman and host David Bloom catch up on the many highlights from earnings season announcements, beginning with those by possible dance partners Comcast and Time Warner Cable and what their news might mean for Comcast’s takeover bid. They also take the market temperature on Viacom and tech giants led by Google — which sold off its Motorola Mobility unit after owning it just two years — and Facebook, Apple, Yahoo and Amazon. They also look at exhibitors’ demands for shorter movie trailers and whether studios will play along.
NEW YORK, Jan. 23, 2014 — Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIAB, VIA) today announced the formation of a Program Acquisitions Group to coordinate the company’s domestic program acquisition activity across its portfolio of domestic media networks, including BET, Centric, MTV, VH1, CMT, Comedy Central, Spike TV, TV Land, Nickelodeon and Nick at Nite.
NEW YORK, Jan. 22, 2014 – Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIAB, VIA) today launched Viacom Velocity, a new full-service group offering insights-driven integrated marketing and creative content solutions from Viacom Media Networks Music and Entertainment. Viacom Velocity merges the company’s existing Music and Entertainment Integrated Marketing teams, under Dario Spina, with a new creative team headed by Niels Schuurmans, former Executive Vice President, Consumer Marketing and Executive Creative Director at Spike TV, who joins as Executive Vice President, Viacom Velocity Creative Content Solutions. Both Spina and Schuurmans report to Jeff Lucas, Head of Sales for Music and Entertainment.
With mere days to go before their latest deal expired, Time Warner Cable and Viacom announced a new carriage agreement today. Among keeping the Viacom channels on for New Year’s, the near last minute multi-year deal adds premiere cabler EPIX to the TWC lineup for the first time. “Our new agreement offers consumers a comprehensive collection of innovations across platforms, including the availability of EPIX and access to Viacom’s vast array of popular content within the Television Everywhere environment both in and out of their homes,”said Viacom President and CEO Philippe Dauman in a statement Tuesday. Specifics of the new agreement were not disclosed, but you can read the release here:
Deadline Financial Editor David Lieberman and host David Bloom talk about highlights from this week’s big UBS media investor conference, which was dominated by lots and lots of talk about the future of pay television, whether the conversation was about DirecTV dropping channels, Viacom and Sony possibly starting an online service, Aereo’s big talk about partnering with cable companies and challenging broadcasters in the Supreme Court, or rising ad revenues for CBS and other broadcasters in a year plumped up by revenues from the Winter Olympics, mid-term elections and an improving economy.
That would be huge if Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman’s prediction is accurate — although he declined to elaborate in his presentation today at the UBS Global Media and Commmunications Conference. Viacom reportedly has talked with Sony about teaming up to offer an online service that would include the same kind of channels that now are only available to cable and satellite TV subscribers. Many programmers fear that a national online service could undermine their ability to sell their channels in bundles that require people to pay for services that they don’t watch. Intel met stiff resistance from cable networks when it proposed to introduce what’s known as an over-the-top service, and now wants to sell its technology.
Paramount will continue to ride movie franchises Mission Impossible, Star Trek, GI Joe, and World War Z and roll out animated films for SpongeBob SquarePants and Monster Trucks, the company told analysts this morning as execs offered a rosy picture of Viacom’s growth prospects. CEO Philippe Dauman also crowed about the attention that Miley Cyrus’ sexually charged dancing brought to MTV’s Video Music Awards in August, calling it a “moment that is still reverberating across the pop culture landscape.” But some investors likely will be more concerned about the company’s acknowledgement that the original programming planned for its pay TV networks will drive costs up by a high single digit rate in 2014. “Original programming gives us the ability to build our brand better,” Dauman says. “It creates a lot of value for us.” In addition, Viacom says that its stock repurchases — which accelerated to $2.7B in the September quarter — will come closer to $850M in the three months ending in December.
The company’s leading Wall Street critic, Bernstein Research’s Todd Juenger, raises the provocative idea this morning in a report that questions whether Viacom‘s stock — now hovering around its all-time high — can continue to rise. The share price has appreciated 55.4% so far in 2013 as investors grew confident that the company had reversed a startling decline in Nickelodeon’s ratings that began to show in late 2011. CEO Philippe Dauman says the turnaround largely reflects the success of new programs including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But Juenger says this morning that the ratings gains — and improvements in ad sales — are about to slow. Nickelodeon benefited in part because it began to target pre-Kindergarten viewers from 8:30 AM-2 PM — loading up on programs such as Dora The Explorer, Umizoomi, and Bubble Guppies – while Nick Jr focused on franchises “with arguably less audience appeal.” As a result “Nick Jr. lost about 250-300k average daily viewers [while] Nickelodeon gained about 100k.” Meanwhile, Nickelodeon squeezed SpongeBob SquarePants which now accounts for 45% of the channel’s programming hours, up from 25% in January 2012. “We know of no other network that relies so heavily on one single franchise,” Juenger says. It’s “undeniably risky to be so dependent on one franchise, especially
That doesn’t necessarily mean Viacom will skimp on spending where needed, CEO Philippe Dauman told investors at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference. For example, Paramount has a new Transformers film planned for next year that has “a very high budget but very low risk. Same with Mission: Impossible and some of the other franchises.” With new versions of its latest franchise, World War Z, “we will alleviate the risk by bringing in co-financing.” Broadly speaking, though, “we have a history even in tough times of maintaining or growing margins” and that means keeping “a tight lid on expenses, including in programming.” At the movie studio Dauman expects to distribute about 15 films a year including three animated titles in 2015. But he adds that he’s “excited” about next month’s Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa with Johnny Knoxville, which Dauman calls “a fun movie, and a profitable one.” He’s also optimistic about Paramount’s revived television production operation.
Pay TV distributors who believe that the decks are stacked against them in retransmission negotiations with major content producers should take a look at the 180-page media and entertainment report out today from International Strategy and Investment Group analyst Vijay Jayant. He urges investors to buy shares of AMC Networks, CBS, 21st Century Fox, Time Warner, and Viacom. He’s neutral on Discovery, Disney, and Scripps Networks. The big reason: These eight companies, he says, “control 90% of total TV viewership and 60% of total film production in the U.S., which means that, for the most part, they have the power to determine how content is packaged and priced to distributors and, therefore, consumers.” That muscle will be evident over the next few years as they squeeze cable and satellite companies to pay $60B in carriage fees for their channels in 2016, up from $45B this year. These payments “are drivers for the overall sector.” Factoring in “the consumer’s inherent psychological need for entertainment (even during tough times),” Jayant predicts healthy profits for his eight companies, with annual average returns on invested capital over the next three years ranging from 40.1% for AMC to 9.9% for Time Warner.
LOVEFiLM, an Amazon company, today announced the arrival of hundreds of hours of popular reality TV series, comedy and children’s entertainment on the LOVEFiLM Instant streaming service following a deal with worldwide entertainment leader Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN). The wide selection of new shows will allow members of LOVEFiLM Instant in the UK to experience some of the greatest entertainment from across VIMN’s exciting broadcast portfolio – which includes MTV, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr. and Comedy Central.
It just might if it frightens them enough to accelerate their efforts to make people pay for broadband based on how much they use — the same way they pay for electricity or water. ”This isn’t just a side show,” independent analyst Craig Moffett says. “This is THE central issue defining the value of the cable industry going forward.” And the pricing model could rock streaming companies including Netflix or, perhaps, Sony. It would be “a material risk” to Netflix’s prospects if a Sony-Viacom agreement leads to usage-based pricing, Bernstein Research’s Carlos Kirjner says.
Listen to (and share) episode 48 of our audio podcast Deadline Big Media With David Lieberman. David talks with host David Bloom about Fox’s big bet on the pay-TV status quo with its heavily promoted Fox Sports 1 channel launch; a possibly game-changing deal in the making between Viacom and Sony Electronics; and that big “for sale” sign hanging around the metaphorical neck of troubled phone maker Blackberry.
This could be a big breakthrough for tech companies that want to create an Internet-based alternative to traditional cable and satellite services. The Wall Street Journal reports that Sony has a preliminary agreement to carry Viacom‘s channels on a service it hopes to launch by year end. The programming would initially go to those with Sony devices including its PlayStation gaming console and Bravia HDTVs, with tablets and smartphones to follow according to “a person familiar with the matter.” If Sony and Viacom complete their deal it would be the first time a major programmer has agreed to provide its most popular pay TV channels to an online service. Intel and Google are among the other companies hoping to use the Internet to challenge cable and satellite video offerings. Sony’s talking with other programmers including Disney, Time Warner, and CBS.
The Daily Show fill-in host John Oliver bows out after tomorrow night. He’s been covering for Jon Stewart since June 10, while Stewart took time off to direct his first film, Rosewater. Oliver’s been getting great reviews for his guest gig. And though this past Monday he told PBS’ Charlie Rose, “I don’t think it’s going to change my life”, and that his goal had been only “not to destroy that machine” during his brief tenure, it’s been a game changer for Viacom Entertainment Group president Doug Herzog, whose empire includes Comedy Central, and who has learned from the experience that there can be life after Stewart. Not that anyone’s making plans to replace Stewart — but it’s got to be nice to know The Daily Show won’t fall off a cliff should the much-loved host who’s been the face of the franchise since January 1999 ever decide it’s time to move on.